#TravelAnyway

Image from The New Yorker

Image from The New Yorker

As we mourn the tragedies that have occurred in The UK over the past month, I would like to encourage you all to not turn your back on traveling in spite of. The scenes on the news that capture the devastation of these attacks are enough to make you cancel your plane ticket and stay in the comfort and perceived safety of your home. However, that’s not the solution and here’s why—terrorists are everywhere; including your hometown.

Terrorists are everywhere; including your hometown.

When we think of terrorists, we immediately envision what the news has engrained in our heads as what a terrorist looks like. Luckily, the jokes on them because we know that terrorists come in all shades and with varying motives. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the terror attacks over the years.*

  • 9/11 (New York)
  • Tuscan Shooting (Arizona)
  • Aurora Movie Theatre Shooting (Colorado)
  • Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Massacre (South Carolina)
  • Club Pulse Massacre (Florida)
  • Facebook Live Killing (Ohio)
  • Boston Marathon Bombing (Massachusetts)
  • Sandy Hooks Elementary Massacre (Connecticut)

Is it shocking to you that this list holds US attacks only (that happen quite frequently, might I add)? How many of you have stayed away from New York because you’re afraid another attack like 9/11 will occur? I would venture to say that NY tourism hasn’t slowed one bit.

That list is sad and scary and what’s even scarier is that we cannot predict these events to possibly avoid them. When they hit, they’re going to hit. As much as we would like to prevent them, we can’t stop every tragedy from happening. If we could, the victims of the aforementioned list would still be here and/or unharmed by their attackers. When you restrict yourself from traveling to a place because of the “possibility” of a terror attack, you only miss out of the beauty that is traveling. The reality of the situation is that if you plan to evade terror attacks, you shouldn’t go to malls, churches, clubs, movie theaters, school or anywhere else. Terror attacks are external conflicts that you cannot predict nor control.

So here lies your options. To travel or not to travel. My advice to you is that you have much more to gain from traveling than you ever would by staying put in your one corner of the world.


*One definition for terrorist is a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims. In this article, the word terrorists is a person you creates terror, irrespective of whether it is politically charged. A mass murderer is a terrorist. Don’t debate it.

Reach Your Goals with 5 Easy Steps

I came off this weekend feeling super goal oriented so I wanted to share with you all some tips to make your goals a reality!

Write them down and keep them top of mind

This is the first step to making your goals more than just a wish. Write them down and put them somewhere you’ll see them often. I’m a sticky note person so my goals are all over my desk, mirrors and walls. Be creative and come up with you method of keeping your goals top of mind.

Flesh them out

Each goal is compacted of smaller little goals. You can’t say you want to save $2000 for your trip without smaller goals to help you reach that. Here’s an example of how you can flesh out your goals.


Goal: Save $2000 to buy my plane ticket and passport for Tokyo by February 2018.

Start Date: May 15, 2017

End Date: February 15, 2018       

Duration: 9 months

Monthly Savings Goal: ~$225

  • Look at spending and determine how much you can save and what you can cut out to save more (contributes est. $100 to monthly savings goal)
    • Cancel cable package and get Netflix
    • Reduce entertainment budget by $50
  • Open an online savings account that cannot be easily accessed (NOT linked to debit card)
    • Here’s one that I use and it’s really helped me reach my goals
  • Setup automated drafts to your savings account to save monthly goal
  • Earn an extra $100 (if you don’t have a side hustle, here’s why you need one and here are some side hustle opportunities for you)
    • Start promoting services in friend groups, GroupMe, and on social media to get more customers
  • Sign up for Digit to save remaining $25 to reach monthly goal

As you can see with this example, a concrete plan has been laid out to help this student reach the goal they are striving for. Be as specific as possible especially around the time and duration because this determines how much you are required to do on a weekly/monthly basis.

Write down your excuses and debunk them

With every goal, there are excuses that will arise that will easily derail your progress. Take a moment to write down the excuses that you will tell yourself and debunk them in advance.

Here’s an example: “I can’t save this month because I have to buy gifts for Christmas.” I will not use this excuse because I will save separately for Christmas gifts or I will not participate in a gift exchange this year. Once my family understands my goal, they will understand my reasoning.

See! It’s that easy. Excuses are really just lies you tell yourself, so do yourself a favor and get that out of your system before you even start!

Execute!!

Now that you have a plan you have to execute. Go at your goal in full force!

Find an accountability partner

To make this an even sweeter deal, partner with someone who also has a lofty goal to reach. Holding each other accountable will keep you honest and on track more than if you were going at it all alone. We tend to be more disciplined when we have to speak to our progress with someone.

I’d love to hear what your goals are and how you plan to reach them! Leave a comment below and let’s form our virtual accountability group. If you would like me to hold you accountable, just let me know and I’ll check in with you periodically to discuss your progress.

Connect with your Study Abroad Office

people-woman-coffee-meeting.jpg

Being connected with the study abroad office for your program is advantageous in getting the most out of your experience before the start of your program. Below are a few benefits of getting connected with the programs abroad office.

Meet fellow students doing your program

The study abroad office is a place where many students come to get questions answered about their program. There is a very good chance that you will be connected with someone who is doing your same program in the office. The staff who works in the office gets to know the students going on the different programs and can help you get in contact with them. This can make your experience abroad a bit easier knowing you have a connection when you visit a new place.

Learn about scholarships to help fund your program

The study abroad office is also a resource for funding your trip. Scholarships are usually posted around the office and being connected will give you information on deadlines, requirements, and need to haves for the scholarship. Also, communicating with the staff could possibly give insight on how to better prepare for the scholarship requirements. Asking questions about getting connected with past scholarship recipients can provide insight as well on how to obtain scholarships.

Learn about other programs that might be of interest to you

The study abroad office gives you an idea about all other programs that you might be of interest to you in the future.  

Hear other stories from students who have studied abroad

The study abroad office is a great place to connect with students who have done programs before and get their insight/perspective on the countries that they have experienced. This can provide a gateway to gain a future travel buddy or create a lasting friendship.

·Volunteer for other events on behalf of the study abroad office

Spending time in the study abroad office and communicating with the staff is a great way to be considered for future volunteer opportunities that involve study abroad students.

-Tyra

Travel While You're Traveling

Plane ticket and currency

The travel price to go abroad can be very expensive. The price of flights to South Africa or Dubai can estimate to over a thousand dollars which can definitely discourage someone from purchasing. However, the neat thing about traveling abroad is that traveling can actually be very cheap between neighboring countries. For example, traveling from Europe to Denver, Colorado can cost well above a thousand dollars. After you spend a few days in Colorado and you want to venture to a neighboring city, say, Las Vegas, the cost for airfare to Las Vegas can be as low as $50 one way. This is the same concept abroad.

In Europe, you can fly into Paris and head down to Spain on plane for around $30 one way or take the train to the United Kingdom for $65 one way. Biting the bullet by purchasing the expensive ticket can lead to experiencing more countries and cities because of the cheaper modes of travel to neighboring cities/countries. When planning to travel always research neighboring countries to see how to get the most out of your experience. If you are going to spend over a thousand dollars on travel to get to a country, might as well get everything you can out of your time there.

Get the most bang for your buck! Travel while you're traveling!

-Tyra

7 Tips on How to Find the Perfect Apartment for You!

European Apartment Building

European Apartment Building

Deciding to study abroad is a big deal, and there are tons of things you need to consider before jetting off. First and foremost, where on earth are you going to stay? Do you want to live in the lively, bustling city centre or in the green, leafy suburbs? Do you want to live alone or with friends? You could be looking for a room in a residence hall, a room in a shared apartment, a studio apartment for yourself or an apartment with friends. Finding the ideal home away from home can be tricky. Here are some tips from our friends at Study Abroad Apartments on how to go about finding your perfect accommodation.

 

1. Do your homework

It’s super important to do plenty of research and check out the vibe of your destination city. Browse the internet for information about the different neighborhoods. Where most students live? Where’s reasonably priced? Where’s most expensive? Where are the safest areas? This comes in handy as you don’t want to spend your time desperately searching for something that doesn’t exist in the real world!

 

     2. Location, location, location

One of the main things you should consider is which area of the city you want to live in. Location is dependent on so many aspects; do you want to live within walking distance to your university or internship, do you want to live in the same building as other students, do you want to be down the road from a cool bar you may have been recommended? If an apartment you are interested in is slightly further out, check where the public transport stops are. How will you get from A to B? Bear in mind some areas will be expensive and others less so. It’s best to decide in which area you want to live before starting to look for an apartment; you don’t want to end up a 2-hour commute from your classes or on the other side of town from where all your friends!

 

      3. Set a budget

Ask yourself: how much do I want to spend on my accommodation? It’s super important to set a monthly budget to avoid any unpleasant surprises! Bear in mind not all apartments include utilities in the monthly rent; you may need to pay for wifi, gas, water and electricity on top of your rent. Make sure you read apartment descriptions carefully, calculate what you are willing to pay and ask any questions whenever unclear. You need to know what is realistic.

 

      4. ..aaaand stick to that budget

Be sure to hunt for apartments within your budget. This will save you getting your heart set on apartments which are way out of reach. During your research, you will become familiar with what you can expect from your budget. There are tons of more affordable options out there and just think; any money you don’t spend on a luxurious apartment can go towards fun activities when you are abroad!

Inside a Study Abroad Apartment

Inside a Study Abroad Apartment

 

      5. Discuss and ask questions

Talk to other students and people who have lived in your destination country or city before can make house hunting so much easier than going it alone! They’ll have all the insider knowledge about which areas are ‘up and coming’, what to avoid at all costs and just generally manage your expectations. Use these contacts wisely! Also, our friends at Study Abroad Apartments are always up for answering any questions you may have about accommodation as well!

 

         6. Go with the flow

It can be difficult finding an apartment that fits your preferences perfectly, so you will need to be a bit flexible. If you don’t find something in your first search, don’t give up! There’s something out there for everyone and accommodation platforms like Study Abroad Apartments are constantly adding new options to their sites.

 

         7. Don’t be too hesitant

Apartments can get booked up super quickly in the most popular student cities. Before you know it, the apartment you had your heart set on has been taken by another group! We totally understand you may not want to book something as soon as you come across it. You may need to liaise with your group or check stuff with your parents. It’s important to get the right balance between doing enough research and not hanging about too long. Just remember, there are other students just like you waiting for that perfect apartment too!

 

The good people at Study Abroad Apartments are always pleased to help provide advice and suggestions throughout your housing hunt. Sign up today and let them know what you’re looking for!

Cheaper isn't Always Better

Let’s just start off by saying that taking the cheapest flight abroad is overall a very horrible experience. It may seem economical to take the flight that’s two to three hundred dollars cheaper, but the devil is in the details.

 

My experience: I decided to save a few coins booking my flight to Barcelona, Spain. In theory it was smart, in hindsight, it was one of my biggest international travel mistakes. I ended up spending two nights in an airport. If I wasn’t trying to save money, I would’ve left the airport to grab a hotel or hostel, but once again, I needed to save money. I stopped in three cities before reaching my host country. The travel time probably equated to a much longer flight from the US to the farthest part of Asia. So.. here’s why you should reconsider booking the cheapest flight.

 

You’ll be extremely tired when you land.

In-flight international time can vary from only a few hours to almost a full day of flying. When you have multiple stops during your flight, you could easily increase your travel time by half a day. No fun.

 

Sometimes the routes are not safe.

Be sure the cheapest flight isn’t routing you through a city with travel advisories. For instance, I almost purchased a flight that went through Lima, Peru at the same time it was listed on our government’s travel advisory site.

 

Overnight layovers.

Need I say more?? Nothing is more uncomfortable than a night in an airport with spotty wifi and expensive snack food.

 

Multiple layovers increase the chances of cancelled flights.

In the event that you have three layovers like I did, it’s possible to end up having to be re-booked due to a cancelled flight. If you have a straight flight, no worries about being re-booked. Once you’re on the flight, it’s straight to your destination!


There are many other ways to save on booking your flight. Simply going with the cheapest option isn’t always the smartest option. 

Black Friday Deals: Study Abroad Style

One thing about Christmas in America is that we can count on it to be SUPER commercialized. As soon as Halloween passes, there’s a surge of Christmas decorations and companies start to mail out their Black Friday advertisements. So, with your study abroad trip coming up, this is the best time for you to shop for the items you need while the prices are slashed to incredibly low prices.

Here’s a list of the deals that I would take advantage of for my Study Abroad Black Friday shopping:

A good rain jacket for those rainy London days 

Women     Men

Luggage for traveling to and fro

Macy's Deal     Target Deal

Phone accessories to keep you connected

Target electronic deals

A good blanket for the freezing plane ride

Target Home Deals

A Travel Mug whether hot or cold

Amazon Deal

What other Black Friday items are you purchasing for your study abroad trip?? Share the link in the comments so that others can browse!

Happy Shopping!

Are you afraid of..... Traveling??

Photo from http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au

Photo from http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au

A lot of students haven’t had the chance to travel out of the country, let alone traveling abroad for weeks or months at a time. If you’re feeling anxiety about being in a foreign place for a long span of time, here are a few ways to overcome your fear of studying abroad:

  1. Watch the news with caution- The media is known for fear-mongering. While it is important to know about the political and social state of the country you’re headed to (you can get these updates from here), it is not wise to be completely engulfed in every tragic thing that happens abroad. Newsflash: terrible, horrible things happen in the US every day that we cannot avoid. Other countries are no different.
  2. Speak with someone who’s done it before- Speaking with someone who has been in your shoes before can be very helpful. They can share their stories and how they overcame the fears they faced. 
  3. Try to find a buddy- reach out to your program to see if they could virtually introduce you to your roommate prior to departing for your trip. This will give you all an opportunity to get to know each other before getting to your new home and give you something to be excited about upon landing!
  4. Journal- Lastly, it’s important to figure out what is causing the fear you’re feeling. One awesome way to sort out those thoughts is to begin journaling. Jot down inspiring travel quotes that get you excited about your journey.Write out bible verses that reinforces your safety and protection. Here’s one I like: 2 Timothy 1:7  "God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."

 

Travel anxiety is scary, but natural. Almost every student traveler has faced it, so don’t worry. You’ll be just fine!

How do you overcome the fear of travel? Let us know in the comments!